Greeting Card Guilt: Save, Toss, or Opt Out?

HallmarkEver since I can remember, opening up cards for family birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, was a special ritual. On those days, countertops were bedecked with a prideful display of numerous heartfelt cards. Happy clutter.

After all, nothing says it like a Hallmark card.  I happen to love greeting cards.  They commemorate both the big milestones as well as the smaller moments that happen every day in our lives.  Whether receiving or giving them, they always makes me happy. They matter to me. Hence, I just don’t buy any old card, and trust me, it takes me lots of time. Honestly, I love the ‘hunt’ for the perfect card for the special person in mind.

Especially in my family, the cards are always sentimental and earnest, and as important as the gift itself. To merely select a generic Hallmark card (with little effort) is not our standard practice. As it is, it’s often difficult to find ample text that captures or expresses the relationship.  And so we are inclined (I admit to starting the trend) to embellish and fill the inside pages with our own personal thoughtful words. I might add, we also have a tendency to buy multiple cards for the same person, same celebration (a serious, sappy, and always a funny one).  I sometimes think that we have helped keep Hallmark in business.  Seriously.  Don’t judge, it’s just what we do.

So you can only imagine if we all saved our cards through the years, it would be a staggering amount of cards. It would be an insurmountable quantum of card clutter, for sure. Truth be told, I use to save ALL of my the cards.  Through the years, I edited them down and considered just saving the special ones from every year, but that still left with me an unmanageable amount of cards.  Sentimental clutter tugging at my heartstrings again.

As a Professional Organizer, I’ve seen too many boxfuls of sentimental cards take up prime real estate in client’s closets, overfilled drawers, or stuffed into crowded bookcases.  More often than not, this memorabilia is rarely revisited or sadly, neglected. As a result of this realization, I’m now becoming more ruthless with what I save. For me, the likelihood of sitting down and re-reading every special card I’ve ever received is slim.  One could argue this; feel what you need to feel in the moment, enjoy it, and let it go.

My new rule of thumb is to display the cards for one week, then toss. I do keep a small box to preserve some special milestone cards and some beautifully written sentiments from my family.

Setting limits has helped eliminate any regret. You can’t keep them all, but you can definitely keep some.

One of my favorite vendors @ NAPO conference, Clearly Noted, has managed to eliminate the card clutter dilemma in a very simple and tender way. As a Professional Organizer herself, (along with Sandra) they design unique and thoughtful cards that convey special sentiments specific to our relationships with our clients.  They’ve cleverly created so many heartfelt ways to thank, encourage, motivate, inspire, and champion their organizing efforts. It’s a very personal reminder that we understand their journey. Inside such a card in small print it says,  “This card is good for one week-then you have my permission to toss it!” How great is that? I’ve given them out to so many clients that are learning how to clear their clutter and they appreciate the irony.  Of course, their first impulse is to keep the card “forever”, but they understand the benefits of letting go.  No guilt.  Clearly noted, indeed.

But if you are one who does struggle with letting go of your sentimental cards, avoid storing them haphazardly.  No need to shove them in drawers or pile in overstuffed shoeboxes.  Give them pride of place.  Consider this viable option;  Card memories is a great clutter-free product that preserves and displays the card (both inner and outer text) in a clear-sleeved album.

Another clutter-free option is the virtual greeting card.  It’s paperless, immediate, and guilt-free. Easy peasy, right? You open the e-card, read it, delete it, or save it. Have you noticed that there’s an increasingly popular trend to text or post to FaceBook? So many more are opting to send instant and free greetings, in lieu of a physical card.

For me, I still love a hand written note, always.  It feels very different to me.  It tells me that someone took the extra time.  Don’t get me wrong, personalized texts are heartfelt too.  I appreciate any kind of attention, lol.

FYI, you can still be sure to find me stalled in the Hallmark aisle searching for this month’s celebrations. If you are the object of my affection, I apologize in advance for giving you card clutter to deal with. Touch, read, toss, I’m OK with that.

So tell me… when it’s your birthday, what do you wish for? A written card, an e-card, or a text?

Read this post on single page to comment →